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什么样的学生可以进入顶尖大学?(下)

更新时间:2017-11-8 11:56:01 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What Colleges Want in an Applicant (Everything)
什么样的学生可以进入顶尖大学?(下)

Even as colleges consider innovation, it’s worth asking which fixtures of the admissions process, if any, they are willing to discard. Some prevalent practices seem to stand in the way of meaningful change.

大学考虑创新之际,也应该思考现有招生过程中的哪些固定做法是他们愿意丢弃的。一些通行的做法似乎阻碍了有意义的改变。

Giving an advantage to the sons and daughters of alumni is one such practice. Some colleges admit legacies (and the children of potential donors) at a much greater rate than non-legacies. Legacies make up nearly a third of Harvard’s current freshman class, The Harvard Crimson has reported. Princeton’s class of 2021 is 13 percent legacy, according to the university’s website.

给校友子女优先权也是这些固定做法之一。一些大学录取传统生(legacies,通常为校友子女,往往有利于吸引校友对母校捐款——译注),以及潜在捐赠者子女的比例远远高于非传统生。据《哈佛深红》(The Harvard Crimson)报道,哈佛本届大一新生中,近三分之一的学生是传统生。根据普林斯顿大学网站显示,该校2021届新生中有13%是传统生。

While a handful of prominent institutions, including the University of Georgia and Texas A&M University, stopped considering legacy status more than a decade ago, most colleges seem unlikely to remove that variable from the admissions equation anytime soon. “I don’t think an applicant’s legacy status is a crazy thing to look at, especially in the financial climate some colleges are in,” said Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admission at Georgia Tech, where nearly a fifth of freshmen are legacies. “Colleges have to think about their longevity.”

尽管包括佐治亚大学(University of Georgia)和德克萨斯州农工大学(Texas A&M University)在内的若干著名学府早在十多年前就不再考虑申请者的家庭传统,但大多数院校似乎在短时间内都不可能把这个变量从招生方程中删除。“我不认为考虑申请人的家庭传统是一件疯狂的事,尤其是考虑到一些学院的财务状况。”佐治亚理工学院(Georgia Tech)本科招生办主任里克·克拉克(Rick Clark)说。该校有将近五分之一的新生是传统生。“院校应考虑自身的持久力。”

The benefits of legacies go beyond maintaining good will with alumni who might open their wallets, Mr. Clark said. In his experience, they tend to be enthusiastic students who help foster community on campus, the kind of relationships that help other students feel at home and succeed. “Multigenerational ties to a place add value, creating this passionate, magnetic source of energy,” he said.

克拉克说,传统生政策的好处不仅在于能够与有可能慷慨解囊的校友保持良好关系。根据他的经验,这部分学生通常都会热心培育校内团体,而这种团体关系能使其他同学感到自在、感到成功。“几代人与一个地方之间的联系能带来增值,创造出富于激情与吸引力的活力之源,”他说。

The key, Mr. Clark believes, is not to lower standards, or to enroll so many legacies that other priorities, such as increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity, suffer as a result. “Those two goals aren’t mutually exclusive,” he said.

克拉克认为,关键在于不要降低标准,或是为了招收太多的传统生而损害其他更为重要的事项,比如促进种族和社会经济的多样性。“这两个目标不是互相抵触的,”他说。

Other measurements used by selective colleges have nothing to do with a student’s accomplishments or attributes — and everything to do with a college’s agenda.

择优录取式院校的其他招生准则与学生的成绩和品质无关——一切都是以学院自身的盘算为标准。

About one in five institutions allot “considerable importance” to “demonstrated interest,” the degree to which applicants convey their desire to enroll if accepted, according to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The strongest expression of demonstrated interest is applying for binding early decision, a policy that favors affluent students who don’t need to compare financial aid offers and one that some colleges use to fill half their seats.

根据美国大学招生咨询会(National Association for College Admission Counseling)的一项调查,约有五分之一的院校认为,“表现出对学校的兴趣相当重要”,也就是说,申请人要充分表达自己被录取后有多么愿意进入该校就读。而表达兴趣最强烈的方式,莫过于申请有约束力的提前录取。该政策偏向家境富裕的学生,他们不需对比不同学校给予的经济援助。部分院校的半数生源都是通过这种提前录取招收的。

Beyond that, technology has made it easier to track the number of times an applicant engages with a college (by visiting the campus, contacting an admissions officer, responding to an email). This valuable information helps officers gauge who’s most likely to enroll, which can influence who gets admitted in the first place. A higher “yield,” the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll, is widely seen as a measure of status.

此外,科技也使院校更容易跟踪申请人与院校互动的次数(如参观校园、联系招生负责人、回复邮件等)。这类有价值的信息能帮助招生人员衡量谁更有可能入学,这会影响到谁能被优先录取。大学录取时的“收成”是指获录取学生真正入学的百分比,较高的“收成”则被普遍视为衡量大学地位的重要标准。

The problem is that savvy students who know colleges are watching them can tilt the odds in their favor, said Nancy Leopold, executive director of CollegeTracks, a Maryland nonprofit group that helps low-income and first-generation students get into college: “Demonstrated interest is biased against kids who don’t know the game exists, or who don’t have the time or money to play it.”

问题在于,那些知道院校在盯着他们的聪明学生可以让这种情况变得对自己更有利。“院校追踪”(CollegeTracks)是马里兰州一个帮助低收入及第一代移民学生进入高校的非盈利组织,其执行主席南希·利奥波德(Nancy Leopold)说:“‘对报考学校表现出兴趣’这一要求对于那些不知道这种游戏规则存在、或是没有时间和金钱来玩这个游戏的学生来说,是有失公平的。”

What do colleges really cherish? The answer is influenced greatly by the entities they seek to impress. U.S. News & World Report and other college guides, not to mention bond-rating agencies, rely heavily on conventional admissions metrics like ACT/SAT scores and acceptance rates to evaluate institutions. A college president might wish to attract more creative thinkers, but accomplishing that goal won’t help his college’s ranking.

大学真正重视的是什么?那些他们想要打动的团体在很大程度上影响着答案。《美国新闻与世界报告》(U.S. News & World Report)和其他院校指南在评估大学院校时严重依赖ACT/SAT分数等传统的录取标准以及录取率,更不用说那些债券评级机构。大学校长或许想要吸引更多有创造力的思想家,但就算实现了这一点也无助于提升院校的排名。

Generally, colleges are risk-averse. Rocking the boat with a newfangled admissions process could hurt their reputations. “The challenge for many admissions offices is to make a change, but not so much change or innovation that you’re risking the position you’re in,” said Ms. Roper-Doten of Olin. Asking students to do more could scare off would-be applicants.

总的来说,学校是不喜欢风险的。采用新奇的招生过程可能会使学校名誉受损。“对很多招生办公室来说,挑战在于要做出改变,但又不能因为这个改变丢了自己的地位,”欧林工程学院(Olin College of Engineering)的艾米莉·罗珀-多滕(Emily Roper-Doten)说。要求学生做更多事情可能会吓退潜在申请者。

“Colleges seek validation,” said Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit group that has sought to reform college admissions. “Without a real external incentive for colleges to care about broadening their understanding of what makes an applicant promising, they don’t seem likely to change the definition on their own.”

“院校都在寻求认可,”非盈利组织教育保护协会(Education Conservancy)总干事劳埃德·萨克尔(Lloyd Thacker)说。该组织旨在改革大学录取方式。“若没有一个实实在在的外部刺激,让学校去拓宽思路,理解什么样的申请者是好苗子,学校自己是不太会去改变这种定义的。”

A recent campaign called “Turning the Tide,” a project of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, is urging admissions deans to rethink the qualities they consider in applicants. In a report signed by representatives of about 200 campuses, colleges are asked to promote ethical character and service to others through the admissions process.

最近,哈佛大学教育学院发起了一个叫“扭转趋势”的活动,呼吁招生办主任重新思考他们希望在申请人身上看到的品质。一份由200个院校代表签署的报告表示,院校应该通过招生过程去促进学生的道德品格和服务他人的行为。

Although some deans say they have no business assessing the character of still-maturing teenagers, the push has prompted a handful of institutions to tweak their applications. The University of North Carolina now emphasizes contributions to others when asking about extracurricular activities. M.I.T. added an essay question asking students to describe how they’ve helped people.

一些招生主任表示,他们没理由去评估尚未成熟的青少年的性格,但这个活动仍然推动了少量机构对他们的申请作出调整。现在,北卡罗来纳大学(University of North Carolina)在问及学生的课外活动时,会强调他们给他人的帮助;麻省理工学院增加了一个申请文问题,要求学生阐述他们是如何帮助他人的。

Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at Harvard, who leads the initiative, recommends that colleges define service in ways that might resonate with disadvantaged students. “Many students don’t have opportunities to do community service,” he said. “They’re taking care of their siblings, or they’re working part-time jobs to help their families. Colleges need to say, ‘That matters to us.’ ”

哈佛大学高级讲师、该活动的发起者理查德·威斯布尔德(Richard Weissbourd)建议院校界定出一些对弱势学生来说可能有共鸣的服务。“许多学生并没有做社区服务的机会,”他说,“他们在照顾自己的兄弟姐妹,或是兼职打工贴补家用。院校需要表态,‘我们对此也很重视。’”

In the end, increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity in higher education is a matter of will. A college can prioritize it or not, said Shaun R. Harper, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education who studies race and student success.

归根结底,增进高等教育的种族和社会经济多样化是个意愿问题。对此,肖恩·R·哈珀(Shaun R. Harper)教授说,院校可以重视,也可以不重视。他在南加州大学罗希尔教育学院(Rossier School of Education)研究种族和学生成功。

In September, Dr. Harper gave a keynote speech at the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, in Boston. He urged his audience to think hard about racial inequality and “things you perhaps inadvertently and unknowingly do to support it.”

9月,哈珀在美国大学招生咨询协会(National Association for College Admission Counseling)的波士顿年会上发表了主题演讲。他呼吁听众深刻思考种族不平等问题,以及“你或许在无意中、不自觉地做过哪些助长不平等的事情”。

He cited as examples high school counselors who discourage promising minority students from applying to highly selective colleges; college leaders who say they “just can’t find enough” qualified black applicants even as their athletics coaches comb the nation for black students who excel at sports; admissions officers who recruit at the same high schools year after year, overlooking those full of underrepresented minorities.

他援引了下面的例子:高中咨询师会劝说少数族裔学生中的好苗子不要申请竞争激烈的院校;大学领导会说“实在找不到足够多”合格的黑人申请者,尽管他们的运动队教练在全美各地遍寻黑人体育特长生;有招生官年复一年地去同一所高中招生,无视那些拥有众多代表不足群体的学校。

As Dr. Harper spoke, many listeners applauded; a few scowled. He concluded his remarks by criticizing the lack of racial diversity among admissions deans themselves. He received a standing ovation.

哈珀在演讲时有许多听众鼓掌,但也有一些人不以为然。他以一则批评作为发言总结:招生主任这个群体本身就缺少种族多样性。他赢得了听众的起立鼓掌。

In a subsequent interview, Dr. Harper elaborated on his concerns. “When the demographics of the profession have not changed, particularly at the senior level,” he said, “I don’t know that we can expect a major change, especially in terms of diversifying the class.”

在后续的采访中,哈珀阐述了自己的顾虑。“如果这个职位上的人员,尤其是高级人员的结构没有变化,”他说,“我不知道我们能否指望出现一个大的改变,特别是在学生多样化方面。”

Although Dr. Harper believes colleges rely too heavily on ACT/SAT scores, he says that the major barriers arise well before the application process even begins. Colleges, he said, must do more in terms of outreach to encourage underrepresented students to apply.

尽管哈珀相信,学校对ACT/SAT分数的依赖太过严重,但他说主要障碍在申请过程开始之前就早已出现。他表示,要鼓励代表不足群体的学生申请,必须多做主动的外联工作。

Dr. Pérez, at Trinity, has similar concerns. Although he is convinced that the selection process can be successfully revamped, he doesn’t think that will solve the No. 1 problem he sees in admissions. “The problem is money,” he said. “If I had more funding, my class would be more diverse. The conversation we’re not having in this country is: How do we fund colleges and universities?”

三一学院(Trinity College)的安吉尔·B·佩雷兹(Angel B. Pérez)有类似的担忧。他相信筛选过程可以成功改造,但他不认为这可以解决申请中的头号问题。“问题在于钱,”他说,“如果我能有更多资金,我的班级就更多样化了。在我们国家,没有人去讨论:我们该如何资助学院和大学?”

However the admissions process might evolve, it surely will continue to serve the interests of colleges first and foremost. Even if someone invents a better, more equitable way to gauge applicants’ potential, a college’s many wants and needs wouldn’t change. Deans would still seek to balance their classes by enrolling a diverse mix of majors from many states and countries. Colleges would still need enough oboe players and theater-arts majors.

无论录取过程如何演变,它必须并肯定会优先考虑院校的利益。即使有人想出一个更好、更公平的衡量申请人潜力的方法,学院的诸多愿望和需求也不会改变。招生主任们依旧会通过招收不同州和国家的学生来平衡他们的班级。大学依然需要足够的双簧管乐手和戏剧艺术专业学生。

“What compels institutions to change is deep discontent,” said Marie Bigham, director of college counseling at Isidore Newman School, in New Orleans. “If they’re only making changes on the margins, it indicates that they’re mostly content with the way things are.”

“迫使学校改变的是深深的不满,”新奥尔良伊西多尔·纽曼学校(Isidore Newman School)大学咨询主任玛丽·拜甘(Marie Bigham)说,“如果他们只是做一些微不足道的改变,那就表示他们对现状基本上是满意的。”

That leads to a big question in an age of widening social inequality. How unhappy are the wealthiest colleges, really, with the status quo? Some of the nation’s most selective institutions enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income ladder than from the bottom 60 percent. Is that simply because of lack of preparation in the K-12 system? Flaws within the selection process? Or is it evidence, as Dr. Harper suggests, of a systemic lack of will to change those numbers?

在社会不平等不断加剧的年代,这导致了一个大问题。那些富有的大学到底对现状有多不满意呢?国内一些顶尖学校会录取更多处于收入阶梯顶部1%的学生,而非底部60%的学生。这仅仅是因为在K-12系统内缺少准备?还是因为在录取过程中的缺陷?还是如哈珀所说,揭示了面对这样的数字,系统性地不愿做出改变?

Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University, says that it is the high-profile colleges that have the power to redefine the admissions process.

德保罗大学(DePaul University)招生管理和市场营销副校长乔·伯肯斯特(Jon Boeckenstedt)认为,顶尖学校是能够重新定义招生过程的。

“Unless and until something changes at the top, nothing else is going to change,” he said. “That’s because, at a lot of colleges, people will go to their graves trying to imitate the Ivy League.”

“除非上层有所改变,否则其他事情是不会有变化的。”他说,“这是因为在许多大学里,人们死都要模仿常春藤联盟。”

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